(New York) Joe Biden cannot boast of having single-handedly torpedoed the presidential ambitions of Rudolph Giuliani, who has put in so much and more. But he was one of the first Americans to see the limits of the date on which the former mayor of New York was betting to reach the White House.
“Rudy Giuliani. There are only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11,” he quipped during a televised debate between the candidates for the Democratic nomination for the presidential election of 2008.
” There is nothing else ! There is nothing else ! he repeated, eliciting laughter and applause from the audience members.
On this 22e anniversary of September 11, the limits of this date have become evident. Although the threat of transnational terrorism has not disappeared, it no longer occupies a central role in the political life of the United States. It was replaced by another threat, which reached its climax on January 6, 2021, a new fateful date around which the American political fight now revolves.
And fate willed that Joe Biden and Rudolph Giuliani find themselves today on opposite sides of this fight, again putting the future of American democracy at stake.
This fight did not start the day of the attack on the United States Capitol, the likely target of United Flight 93 which crashed in the middle of a field in Pennsylvania after a revolt by passengers informed by telephone of the attacks on the World Trade Center towers.
Chance – another – wants this fight to have been defined a few days before the 15the 9/11 anniversary by a former Rudolph Giuliani (and Rupert Murdoch) speechwriter. On September 5, 2016, Michael Anton published an essay titled The Flight 93 Election (The Flight 93 election), under the pseudonym Publius Decius Mus.
In this text, long passages of which the late king of conservative radio Rush Limbaugh read and re-read to his millions of listeners, the author compared nothing more or less than Hillary Clinton and the Democrats to the terrorists of Al-Qaeda.
And he urged American voters to save their country by voting for Donald Trump, however imperfect. Going to the end of his metaphor, he equated a vote for the Republican candidate with the assault of the cockpit by the passengers of Flight 93.
“There are no guarantees. Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain,” wrote Michael Anton at the start of his essay published on the Claremont Review of Books website.
After Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, that same Anton rejoiced that “the revolutionary spirit that gave birth to this nation is not completely dead.”
Another coincidence. Last week, Washington federal judge Timothy Kelly used a similar phrase – “revolutionary zeal” – when addressing the former leader of the Proud Boys.
“It is difficult to express the importance of a peaceful transfer of power,” Judge Kelly said in sentencing Enrique Tarrio to 22 years in prison, the heaviest sentence handed down to members of the far-right groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers for the assault on the Capitol.
Our country was founded as an experiment in governance by the people, but it cannot last long if the way we elect our leaders is threatened by force and violence. Mr. Tarrio was the ultimate leader, the ultimate organizer, who was driven by revolutionary zeal.
Washington Federal Judge Timothy Kelly
On 9/11, 2023, top US law enforcement officials consider white supremacists and far-right supporters to be the greatest domestic terrorist threat in the United States.
Joe Biden has made the fight against these extremist movements a priority. Just as he promised to fight the rise of authoritarianism abroad and at home after the attack on the Capitol, a desecration of the sanctuary of American democracy.
But a significant portion of American voters do not want his fight, seeing the president and his Democratic allies not as a loyal or legitimate opposition, but as a mortal enemy.
This hostility is not just aimed at Democrats, but at the entire federal government, what Donald Trump and his allies call the “deep state.” On August 29, a coalition of conservative groups unveiled an ambitious plan from several conservative organizations for the return of Donald Trump or any other Republican president to the White House.
In a 1,000-page document titled “Project 2025,” this conservative coalition led by the think tank The Heritage Foundation proposes firing up to 50,000 federal civil servants on the first day of a new Trump administration and replacing them with people who share the former president’s vision, including within the Justice Department and the FBI.
Donald Trump and his entourage have a similar project, which would be based on a presidential decree revoked by Joe Biden, and whose return would create a new category of federal civil servants likely to be fired at the pleasure of the president.
Twenty-two years after September 11, the United States is not safe from another transnational terrorist attack. But this threat is eclipsed for the moment by January 6, a fateful date whose consequences the Americans have probably not yet finished measuring.